Karl Marx was the greatest thinker and philosopher of his time. Hisviews on life and the social structure of his time revolutionized the wayin which people think.
He created an opportunity for the lower class torise above the aristocrats and failed due to the creation of the middleclass. Despite this failure, he was still a great political leader and setthe basis of Communism in Russia. His life contributed to the way peoplethink today, and because of him people are more open to suggestion and arequicker to create ideas on political issues.Karl Heinrich Marx was born May 5th, 1818 in Trier. Although he hadthree other siblings, all sisters, he was the favorite child to his father,Heinrich. His mother, a Dutch Jewess named Henrietta Pressburg, had nointerest in Karl’s intellectual side during his life. His father was aJewish lawyer, and before his death in 1838, converted his family toChristianity to preserve his job with the Prussian state.
When Heinrich’smother died, he no longer felt he had an obligation to his religion, thushelping him in the decision in turning to Christianity.Karl’s childhood was a happy and care-free one. His parents had agood relationship and it help set Karl in the right direction.” His splendid natural gifts’ awakened in his father the hope that they would oneday be used in the service of humanity, whilst his mother declared him tobe a child of fortune in whose hands everything would go well.
(The storyof his life, Mehring, page 2)In High school Karl stood out among the crowd. When asked to writea report on “How to choose a profession” he took a different approach. Hetook the angle in which most interested him, by saying that there was noway to choose a profession, but because of circumstances one is placed inan occupation. A person with a aristocratic background is more likely tohave a higher role in society as opposed to someone from a much poorerbackground.While at Bonn at the age of eighteen he got engaged to Jenny vonWestphalen, daughter of the upperclassmen Ludwig von Westphalen. She wasthe childhood friend of Marx’s oldest sister, Sophie.
The engagement was asecret one, meaning they got engaged without asking permission of Jenny’sparents. Heinrich Marx was uneasy about this but before long the consentwas given.Karl’s school life other than his marks is unknown.
He never spokeof his friends as a youth, and no one has ever came to speak of him throughhis life. He left high school in August of 1835 to go on to the Universityof Bonn in the fall of the same year to study law. His father wanted him tobe a lawyer much like himself but when Karl’s reckless university life wasgetting in the way after a year Heinrich transferred him to Berlin.
Also,he did not go to most lectures, and showed little interest in what was tobe learned. Karl’s reckless ways were not tolerated at Berlin, a moreconservative college without the mischievous ways of the other universities.While at Berlin, Marx became part of the group known as the YongHegelians. The group was organized in part due to the philosophy teacherHegel that taught from 1818 to his death. The teachings of Hegel shaped theway the school thought towards most things. Those who studied Hegel and hisideals were known as the Young Hegelians.
Hegel spoke of the developmentand evolution of the mind and of ideas. Although Karl was younger than mostin the group, he was recognized for his intellectual ability and became thefocus of the group. While at Berlin “He came to believe that all thevarious sciences and philosophies were part of one overarching, which, whencompleted, which would give a true and total picture of the universe andman.
” (Communist Manifesto, Marx (Francis B. Randal), page 15) Marx was anatheist, and believed that science and philosophy would prove everything.Thus he had no belief in a god of any type. Marx believed that Hegel musthave been an atheist as well because of his strong belief in the mind.Marx’s doctoral thesis was competed in 1841.
It carried the title”The Difference Between the Philosophies of Nature of Democrtius andEpicurus.”(The Making of Marx’s Critical Theory, Oakley, page 11) It had todo with the Greek philosopher Epicurus and how his beliefs related toMarxs’ of that day. This thesis was an early indication of the thinkingbehind Karl Marx. Much of his later work and ideas are evident in thisessay.He passed his thesis into the University of Jena because Bonn andBerlin required an oral part to the thesis.
The quickness was also a matterin this. He passed it in early April, and got his degree in history andphilosophy in April 15, 1841.After graduation he was unable to find work. This caused him totake a job with the German newspaper Rheinische Zeitung in early 1842. Bythe end of the year, Marx made editor- in-chief. A few months after that in1843 because of his radical writings, and his social views, Marx was forcedto step down as editor, and soon after that the paper closed altogether.
He married Jenny von Westphalen, and with a member of the YoungHegelians, Arnold Ruge went to Paris to publish a radical journal on hisbeliefs. It was evident in his works that he was a revolutionary thatadvocated criticism of everything in existence. This was especiallyanticipated by the proletariat.
The proletariat were the working class ofthe day. They were the poor and made up the majority of people. Marx wenton to believe that the proletariat would rise up against the bourgeoisie.
Then in 1844 Marx met a man that would change his life forever.When going to England after doing military service, he meet Marx in Colognein the offices of the Rheinische Zeitung. Both of them had gone through theGerman philosophic school and whilst abroad they came to the sameconclusions but while Marx arrived at an understanding of the struggles andthe demands of the age basis of the French Revolution, Engles did so on thebasis of English industry. (The Story of His life, Mehring, page 93)Friedrich Engles was born in 1820 in the Rhine Province of the Kingdom ofPrussia.
Like Marx he was brought up with the German philosophies of Hegel,and like Marx, Engles began to follow the works of Hegel. These parallelsbetween Marx and Engles formed a relationship that would last for the restof each others lives. They both contributed to each others works, and co-wrote many things. The similarity in background between the two also meanta similarity in ideas. The both believed in the struggle of the proletariatand that it would rise up against the bourgeoisie. Marx is considerate tobe the greater of the two philosophies.
The one contrast was the way inwhich one solved problems. Marx would use historical research to solve aproblem, as apposed Engles who used his imagination and pure mind to comeabout a solution. These differences in culture and similarities in beliefscomplemented each other well. This outlook on society and the class war wasingenious. It was their greatest work together, the communist manifesto,which achieved them their most popularity among the proletariat, andcreated the most problems with the government for the two.Communist Manifesto or Manifest der Kommunistischen Partel was abook written by Marx with collaboration from Engles.
Basically meaning thatMarx wrote it but he discussed the issues in the manifesto with Engles. Itdocuments the objectives and principals of the Communist League, anorganization of artist and intellectuals. It was published in London in1848, shortly before the revolution in Paris. The manifesto is divided intofour parts, and the beginning of the entire document reads “A specter ishaunting Europe”The first part outlines his ideas on history and a prediction onwhat is yet to come. He predicts a confrontation between the proletariatand the bourgeoisie, the working class and the higher class. Because of themain logic behind capitalism the bourgeoisie will seek more power and morewealth.
With them doing this, the living conditions of the proletariat willdecrease. Numbers of proletariat will increase as well as their politicalawareness, and will revolt against the bourgeoisie and will eventually win.In the second part Marx discusses the importance of Communism, andif private property is abolished, class distinctions will be as well. Thesecond part also stresses the importance of the necessity of theproletariat and bourgeoisie being common and the level of class being thesame.The third part critiques other social ideas of the modern day.
Thefinal and fourth part discussed the differences between his politicalissues as apposed to those of the other oppositonal parties. This part endsin bold capital letters “WORKINGMEN OF ALL COUNTRIES, UNITE!”The days of November 1850 fall almost exactly in the middle ofMarx’s life and they represent, not only externally, an important turningpoint in his life’s work. Marx himself was keenly aware of this and Englesperhaps even more so. (The Story of his life, Mehring, page 208) Living inpolitical exile his life changed. His ideas were no longer followed likethey once were.
His isolation from the general public provided a new lightin his life.Then, in 1855, his only son died. His son showed much potential,and was the life of the family. When he died, Jenny became very sick withanxiety, and Marx himself became very depressed. He wrote to Engles “Thehouse seems empty and deserted since the boy died. He was its life and soul.
It is impossible to describe how much we miss him all of the time. I havesuffered all sorts of misfortunes but now I know what real misfortuneis….” (The Story of his Life, Mehring, page 247)After the Communist League disbanded in 1852 Marx tried to createanother organization much like it.
Then, in 1862 the First Internationalwas established in London. Marx was the leader. He made the inauguralspeech and governed the work of the governing body of the International.When the International declined, Marx recommended moving it to the UnitedStates. The ending of the International in 1878 took much out of Marx, andmade him withdraw from his work; much like the ending of the CommunistLeague had done. This time, it was for good.
The last ten years of his life is known as “a slow death”. This isbecause the last eight years many medical problems affected his life. Inthe autumn of 1873 he was inflected by apoplexy which effected his brainwhich made him incapable of work and any desire to write. After weeks oftreatment in Manchester, he recovered fully. He controlled the demise ofhis health. Instead of relaxing in his old age he went back to work on hisown studies. His late nights and early mornings decreased his health in thelast few years of his life.
In January of 1883, after the death of hisdaughter Jenny, he suffered from Bronchitis and made it almost impossibleto swallow. The next month a tumor developed in his lung and soonmanifested into his death on March 14, 1883.Although Marx’s influence was not great during his life, after hisdeath his works grew with the strength of the working class. His ideas andtheories became known as Marxism, and has been used to shape the ideas ofmost European and Asian countries. The strength of the Proletariat has beendue to the work of Marx.
His ideals formed government known as Communism.Although he was never a rich man, his knowledge has been rich in importancefor the struggle of the working class.Works CitedHimelfarb, Alexander and C. James Richardson. Sociology for Canadians:Images of society.
Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryderson Limited, 1991Mehring, F, Karl Marx, The story of his life, London: Butler and Tannerltd., 1936Marx, K, The Communist Manifesto, Germany: J. E. Burghard, 1848″Karl Marx.” Microsoft Encarta 96 Encyclopedia. Cd-Rom. Microsoft Corp.
,1993-1995Vesaey, G. and P. Foulkes. Collins dictionary of Philosophy. London:BritishLibrary Cataloguing in Publication Data, 1990 Words/ Pages : 1,913 / 24